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February 25, 1974

The Penalty for Smoking

Author Affiliations

Port Jervis, NY

JAMA. 1974;227(8):941. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230210051020

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To the Editor.—  The use of tobacco in any form—chewing, snuffing, or smoking—as detrimental to health, was known a long time ago. It was usually found to be repulsive to others when done in their presence. The question arose early in history, whether the smoker should be punished for what he did to himself and to others.Tobacco smoking in Japan was a well-established habit in 1595. In 1603, it was forbidden by the state, to no avail. Then, in 1612, it was decreed that if one was caught even just selling tobacco, all his property was to be confiscated. In 1604, King James I of England called smoking "barbarous, beastly, hateful to the nose, a vile and stinking custom, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs." But he does not seem to have requested any punishment; the king trusted that his word alone would be followed. He who